In this tutorial, we will cover how to use vector displacement on the leg and tentacles of the Killamari character. We will also cover Override Sets to add subdivision to create a smooth looking mesh. 


The original Maya scene files for this series of tutorials can be downloaded from Autodesk's Hyperspace Madness production.

This tutorial will cover the following topics:


Override Sets

Vector Displacement



Override Sets

Rather than having to change the number of Subdivisions for each model we can add any changes to a Maya Set and override that set.

Subdivision Overrides assigned to body Set

Bear in mind that each subdivision iteration quadruples the number of polygons. If your object has 2 levels of subdivision iterations set and 4 additional iterations set in Arnold, that's 6 subdiv iterations total and therefore 426936 * 4^6 = 426936 * 4096 = 1.7 Billion polygons.

Care should be taken when increasing Arnold's subdivision iterations in combination with Maya's Smooth Mesh Preview (3 on the keyboard). Arnold will also render this preview smoothed state in the final image. This may result in a subdivided mesh that far exceeds the necessary amount of polygons required and will result in longer export/render times.

Vector Displacement

We can add more detail to the leg and tentacle models by using a vector displacement map.

Override Set for leg and tentacle geometry


Displacement texture connected to the Shading Group of the body shader


Rollover image to see without displacement

The Utility shader can be useful for diagnosing issues when rendering displacement maps. It has a polywire mode that can be useful when test rendering displacement and subdivision. The leg and tentacles appear black because they have a high number of subdivision iterations (6) whereas the rest of the body has only 2.

You can also use Feature Overrides if you need to disable rendering of displacement in the scene (useful for scene diagnosis purposes).

Utility shader. Shade mode set to 'ndoteye'. Rollover to disable subdivision (Feature Override).



That's it. Congratulations, you have completed this tutorial. Now go out there and explore new worlds of rendering!